The past few days haven’t been too great for anyone who decided to launch an iPhone app right before Halloween. Why? Because no matter how many thousands of downloads their fresh-faced app might have received, it wasn’t going anywhere near the oh-so-coveted US Top 10 list.
For reasons unclear right now, the rankings system for the US App Store has been locked in stone for the past four days.
The freeze, which ran from Thursday afternoon until early this morning, was a curse for some, but a godsend for others. For those who had the unfortunate timing of launching on Thursday, it meant there was simply no shot of getting that sudden, exponential influx of users that comes with cracking the Top 10 — at least, not right off the bat. For those who managed to sneak onto the list right before things went all Han-Solo-In-Carbonite, however, it meant four full days of unchallenged dominance over one of the App Store’s most desired spots.
It’s worth noting that this freeze seems to have only affected the ranking system in the US; in every other country with an App Store of their own, business went on as usual.
Oddly enough, a similar thing happened almost exactly one year ago. On November 5th, 2009, the US App Store rankings went on lock down. Things returned to normal just 48 hours later, with one exception: updates to applications no longer bumped them to the top of the “Recently Released” list, foiling the plans of developers who were flooding the App Store with minor updates to boost their numbers. It’s unclear what (if anything) changed this time around, though I’ve got a handful of people whispering that the whole thing boils down to Apple spending the halloween weekend overhauling the App Store’s ranking algorithms.